In one critical sequence, Kowalski asks Stone about her life at home. Stone tells Kowalski she had a daughter, but the girl hit her head at age four and died. "That was it," she says. Stone was driving when she received the call with news of her daughter's death. "Ever since then, that's what I do (drive)," Stone tells Kowalski.

And that's about the extent of the character development in Gravity. The rest is comprised of Stone's attempts to enter a space station and get back to Earth before her oxygen supply runs out.

Gravity's most poignant moment comes when Stone, sure she's facing imminent death, says no one will mourn for her, and no one will pray for her soul. She doesn't know how to pray. Is there Anyone out there that can hear her? she wonders. Forced to confront her own mortality, Stone is shaken out of her lingering sorrow over her daughter's death to consider the idea that there might be Someone who cares about the dire situation in which she finds herself.

What director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) have achieved with Gravity is singular: an event that will be a landmark cinematic experience for many viewers. The long, single-shot takes Cuarón and Lubezki came up with for their earlier collaboration, Children of Men, are one-upped here in astonishing fashion, as the looping, spinning camera pulls the viewer into the orbit of the film's main characters and makes us feel like we're alongside them for their spacewalks.

Special effects create unforgettable, otherworldly images in Gravity, but none so lovely as the simple beauty of a human figure finding a moment of peace, reflection and contemplation. It's Bullock who has to carry Gravity, and she gives a dazzlingly physical performance as Stone, fighting off fire, space debris and her own fears in a seemingly hopeless effort to survive.

Gravity is a film of beauty and visual wonder. But how much better might the film have been had Cuarón's script (co-written with his son, Jonas) given the characters more attention? Gravity is the rare case where an epic film needed a longer running time to provide more information that might have led to a more profound experience. As it is, Gravity soars, but not quite as high as it could have.

CAUTIONS

  • Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; the f-word; s-word; a-s; b-tch; hell
  • Drinking/Smoking: A joke and reminiscence about Mardi Gras; Matt says he knows where the Russians store their vodka; an analogy made to wine and beer, and to sipping versus gulping; vodka is consumed
  • Sex/Nudity: None
  • Violence/Crime: Debris storms; a dead body with a severely disfigured face; circumstances surrounding a young girl's death recounted; fire and diminished oxygen supplies threaten Ryan's life
  • Religion/Morals/Marriage: Ryan contemplates imminent death, says no one will mourn or pray for her soul; a Buddha figure; an expression of thanksgiving to an unnamed source

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com

Publication date: October 4, 2013